Report: UK sport looks to German model for returning fans to stadiums

The UK government’s Sports Technology Innovation Group (STIG) has made it a priority to see if Germany’s approach for getting fans back into stadiums can be used in English sport, according to The Times.

Tens of thousands of supporters have been permitted to attend German soccer’s Bundesliga in the past two weeks, provided the surrounding area does not have a high number of Covid-19 cases.

In contrast, no fans across the UK have been allowed at any professional sports matches after the government scrapped further pilot events with spectators this month following a tightening of restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Germany’s model allows stadiums to be up to 20 per cent full if the number of Covid-19 cases in the local area has been below 35 per 100,000 people in the previous seven days. Only home fans are allowed to attend and the system also gives local authorities the final say, in addition to giving them further options either to reduce capacity below 20 per cent or to exclude all spectators.

As a result, German champions Bayern Munich have not been permitted to welcome fans due to the number of cases in the city. Schalke have also had to ban supporters despite being in close proximity to Dortmund, where around 11,500 fans were in attendance for Borussia Dortmund’s 4-0 victory against SC Freiburg on 3rd October.

According to The Times, should England adopt a similar model, many soccer clubs outside of cities in the north and the Midlands, where cases have risen significantly, would be able to admit spectators.

The STIG is also reportedly looking at the strategies used by German authorities for public transport, as well as fans entering and leaving grounds. The group, which was set up last month, has been tasked with providing a concrete evidence base so that a limited number of fans can be allowed in once infection rates have declined.

The Times added that, when spectators are allowed to attend sport in England, it is likely that capacity will initially be capped at about 2,000 to 2,500 people.

The STIG has also issued a call for ideas on the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) website asking for feedback on a series of questions designed to speed up the return of spectators.

The questions cover areas such as ticketing an capacity, pre-event build-up, travelling to the stadium, entry and exit protocols, maintaining social distancing inside venues and post-event measures.

Amid growing concerns over the loss of income across English sport, The Financial Times reported last month that Premier League clubs are already bracing themselves for a shortfall of UK£540 million (US$699 million) for the 2020/21 season due to lost matchday revenue.

Original article 05.10.20 on

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